It’s time to start up the study diary again! I wrote it every week during my two years at FU, where I studied for my MA degree in Visual and Media Anthropology. It helped me get on top of things and inspired me to read more.
I’ll start with a little summary of the summer 2021, sometimes going back a bit more.
It’s been a hard summer for me, because I had a concussion on 1 May 2021 which took about three months to recover from. It was a violent bike crash – I have no memories from it, the next thing I remember is waking up at the hospital.
The hardest thing during recovery was that I had to abstain from all cognitive work, a nightmare of sorts. Finally being able to get back to reading, writing, watching, creating feels like getting my life back!
In one week I’ll start a PhD in Japanese Studies. This has been in the works for more than a year:
- In February 2020 I met a scholar in my field at an event in Tokyo. We had coffee afterwards and realised we had similar research interests.
- In September 2020, while finishing up my master’s thesis, I contacted her and asked if she would be interested in supervising my PhD studies. She said yes.
- In November 2020, after having submitted my master’s thesis, I crafted a research proposal, which we perfected together over two months. This was a lot of work, but it paid off:
- In January 2021 I applied, in April 2021 I was accepted, and in May 2021 I was awarded school funding for my PhD project.
And now in September 2021 it will finally start – I’m so excited!
Last year I got a taste for academic conferences after having attended EASA 2020 as a listener. Now I’ve started to attend conferences as a presenter, which seems to be the norm.
March 2021: RAI Film Festival and Conference (London)
Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland
I had been invited by my MA supervisor to present my master’s thesis (or some aspects of my fieldwork) in a panel he convened.
- Panel 26b: Empirical art: Filmmaking for fieldwork in practice | Ethics of engagement
- My paper: Negotiating controversy: Understanding sexuality and desire in Japanese shotacon subculture
June 2021: 15th SIEF congress (Helsinki)
International Society for Ethnology and Folklore
The theme of the conference was “Breaking the Rules: Power, Participation, Transgression”, which felt like a good fit for me and my film, which had been selected for the audiovisual programme.
- Roundtable: Mediating Empowerment
Upcoming in November 2021: IUAES Yucatan congress (Mexico City)
International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences
- Panel 54: Exploring the potential of creative visual methods in creating worlds that upset the definition of possible
- My paper: Drawing desire: Queering the past through Japanese shota comics
- In November 2020 I submitted an abstract about West German gay magazines’ image of Arab men and boys in the 1970s to a theme issue of an academic journal. It was not accepted, but I got a very positive rejection email (not a good fit).
- In February 2021 I submitted the same abstract for a roundtable at DGSKA-Tagung 2021 – it was also not accepted (the convenors found it interesting but it was not a good fit).
- I refrained from submitting this abstract to another theme issue of a journal – because their website didn’t have an SSL certificate (https instead of http) and I find that unprofessional and decided to trust my intuition!
- 15 May 2021 I submitted a chapter proposal for a book based on the RAI panel. Not all of us will be selected for the book, and my brain was mushy when I wrote it due to the concussion I had two weeks earlier, so we’ll see.
- 30 June 2021 I submitted an abstract for a paper for the IUAES Yucatan congress, which was accepted (see above).
- On 20 August 2021 I submitted my first full article for an academic journal. It was the West German gay magazines again, which is a semester paper that I had rewritten, something I had planned to do for a long time, but I think I was intimidated by the weight of academic publishing. I’m happy I finally got to it. Rewriting and fixing the reference style to that favoured by the journal.
- And on 30 August 2021 I submitted my whole master’s thesis (essay and film) to a competition, which involved some formatting and anonymising work. Exciting!
Submitting is such a wonderful feeling, the best! (In that regard, I keep coming back to Kim Liao’s “Why You Should Aim for 100 Rejections a Year” – first read in January 2019. I don’t take it literally, but I like the attitude.)
Submitting my film to film festivals is another matter and mostly done through Filmfreeway. My film has been out for a year now, so I’ve got a good understanding of where it fits and not. It is obvious that regular film festivals are uninterested. Ethnographic film festivals, however, have loved Unreal Boys:
- March 2021: Days of Ethnographic Film in Slovenia was my first selection. I participated in a Q&A (Youtube link) and watched all the films! A great experience throughout.
- June 2021: SIEF, as detailed above.
- June 2021: The selection by Kyiv Film Festival was a bit of a surprise. A regular film festival – and Unreal Boys won Best Director!
- November 2021: And I’m happy to reveal that Unreal Boys has been selected for the prestigious Society for Visual Anthropology Film and Media Festival 2021!
I’ve also heard from two quite fitting festivals that my film almost made the cut. Well, too bad for them!
I’ve given Unreal Boys what it deserves now, and I’m happy it has had success at exactly the kind of venues where I think it should be shown and discussed. That will be all I do with this film. Due to several factors I can’t publish it online, which is a pity.
I still think I want to make a trailer though. Unreal Boys deserves one.
Thanks to Covid, events and courses started moving online and I could participate in a plethora of them, although not always so actively:
- 20 & 27 November 2020: Queer Methodologies Graduate Symposium (The Irish Sexualities and Genders Research Network)
- 8-10 April 2021: Transitions 9: New Directions in Comics Studies (Birkbeck, University of London)
- 17-18 April 2021: Insideout: Goldsmiths Visual Anthropology MA 2019-20 (discussion)
- 24-28 May 2021: Sexuality Summer School (University of Manchester) – had to abort due to the concussion still being so fresh
- 8 July 2021: Pathways to reconnection (discussion) – my classmates’ online exhibition, open until June 2022
- 20 July 2021: The Academic Chorus (Creative Arts Research Network)
- 28-30 July 2021: Manga and Anime Days (Wacom)
Plus the Second Life Book Club often on Wednesday evenings, and once an extra event with Tom Boellstorff.
- 16-17 September 2021: ENQA workshop
- 21 September 2021: The Academic Chorus?
- 17-19 November 2021: Queer Autoethnography?
I finished the Japanese Core 6000 in Anki from the hospital bed (not knowing better – I should just have rested!). I kept repping for a couple of weeks before I realised I had to take a complete break from Japanese to not threaten my recovery from the concussion (more than I already had by not knowing better). Instead, it became the summer of Swedish radio.
When I decided to get back in the saddle I had 3,000 or so reps waiting for me. I realised that I was so easily distracted that I needed a God’s eye watching over me if I would get through it. I’m a bit proud of what I came up with: For seven consecutive early mornings I livestreamed myself doing Anki for about 2,5 hours each day. It worked! The potential global audience of Youtube became my God’s eye. Here is the 15-hour (!) playlist:
As a tech guy I enjoyed getting the streaming set-up right. It was learning by doing, so the first sessions are not technically perfect – but that was also not the point!
During August 2021 I’ve also got on top of the jōyō kanji list again, that is, I have repped the 2,200 meanings in Heisig’s Remember the Kanji, and for this I use Flashcards Deluxe on my Ipad while writing the kanji on a paper, as shown in the one kanji writing livestream I did:
This is not distracting at all. In fact, it’s one of my favourite pastimes and I’m excited to learn more kanji – but first I must get on top of the readings (not just the meanings).
One of the few things I could do while recovering from the concussion was to read shōjo manga, so I finished the whole series of Kokoro Button:
Not much watched during my recovery. I finished Wataru, watched some more Granzort, and just this week started the legendary space adventure Macross from 1982.
Japanese Language-Proficiency Test
Today I registered for JLPT N2 which takes place on 5 December 2021 – it was cancelled at my venue last year.
I’ve recently come into contact with a group of new research participants whom I have corresponded quite intensely with. They are providing new perspectives to my research, and that makes me very excited.
In May 2021 I purchased Atlas.ti for qualitative data analysis, but realised I was not fit to work with it since I was too fragile still after the concussion.
It’s a challenge to find a way to consolidate and store research participant data in a secure way. I’m still in the process of creating some kind of structure that lets me be on top of things.
Just some random articles that I’ve read:
- Politiken: Ny dansk forskning: En rystet hjerne skal ikke kun hvile – den skal også udfordres (January 2020, this article healed me in one go!)
- All the anime/Jonathan Clemens:
- Vox: Netflix’s re-translation of Neon Genesis Evangelion is drawing backlash for queer erasure (2019)
- Jeff Bezos: No thank you, Mr. Pecker (2019)
- Kvartal/Håkan Lindgren: Så fungerar den svenska dubbelmoralen (August 2021)
- Kvartal/Oscar Swartz: Carina Bergfeldt ser bara spikar (September 2021)
On Franziska Giffey’s withdrawn doctoral dissertation, a trope in German politics:
- Der Spiegel: Darum geht es bei Giffeys Plagiatsaffäre (May 2021)
- Tagesspiegel: Verstöße prägen die gesamte Arbeit (June 2021)
I’m keeping track on Letterboxd now, but I think Agnès Varda deserves a mention as a new discovery (thanks to my Editing Forum teacher):
- Black Panthers (1968)
- Women Reply (1975)
- Daguerreotypes (1975)
- Mur Murs (1981)
- Documenteur (1981)
- Kung-Fu Master! (1988)
- The Gleaners and I (2000)
- The Gleaners and I: Two Years Later (2002)
- Varda by Agnès (2019)
Worth mentioning is Writing Culture by James Clifford and George E. Marcus (editors) from 1986, the book that defined the “crisis of representation” in anthropology. I recorded summaries for each chapter and put them into a playlist:
- I recently read Cal Newport’s self-help book Deep Work, which made deep impact – I did a video.
- Angela Duckworth’s Grit is also helping – I’m halfway through.
- Georges Bataille’s Eroticism is a hassle to get through but highly relevant to my research.
It’s been a strange period in my life, both the concussion and other private matters.
I’ve got my two vaccine shots, visited an optician to get new glasses, and started to meet some people. Yesterday I met my classmates at Südblock to celebrate that they have now all submitted their master’s thesis, after almost a year of Covid extensions.
As I’m getting back into life, after not having been fully myself, I hope things will become good.